Transcriptional control and the role of silencers in transcriptional regulation in eukaryotes.
ABSTRACT: Mechanisms controlling transcription and its regulation are fundamental to our understanding of molecular biology and, ultimately, cellular biology. Our knowledge of transcription initiation and integral factors such as RNA polymerase is considerable, and more recently our understanding of the involvement of enhancers and complexes such as holoenzyme and mediator has increased dramatically. However, an understanding of transcriptional repression is also essential for a complete understanding of promoter structure and the regulation of gene expression. Transcriptional repression in eukaryotes is achieved through 'silencers', of which there are two types, namely 'silencer elements' and 'negative regulatory elements' (NREs). Silencer elements are classical, position-independent elements that direct an active repression mechanism, and NREs are position-dependent elements that direct a passive repression mechanism. In addition, 'repressors' are DNA-binding trasncription factors that interact directly with silencers. A review of the recent literature reveals that it is the silencer itself and its context within a given promoter, rather than the interacting repressor, that determines the mechanism of repression. Silencers form an intrinsic part of many eukaryotic promoters and, consequently, knowledge of their interactive role with enchancers and other transcriptional elements is essential for our understanding of gene regulation in eukaryotes.
Project description:Lineage-specific gene expression is modulated by a balance between transcriptional activation and repression during animal development. Knowledge about enhancer-centered transcriptional activation has advanced considerably, but silencers and their roles in normal development remain poorly understood. Here, we performed chromatin interaction analyses of Polycomb repressive complex?2 (PRC2), a key inducer of transcriptional gene silencing, to uncover silencers, their molecular identity and associated chromatin connectivity. Systematic analysis of cis-regulatory silencer elements reveals their chromatin features and gene-targeting specificity. Deletion of certain PRC2-bound silencers in mice results in transcriptional derepression of their interacting genes and pleiotropic developmental phenotypes, including embryonic lethality. While some PRC2-bound elements function as silencers in pluripotent cells, they can transition into active tissue-specific enhancers during development, highlighting their regulatory versatility. Our study characterizes the molecular profile of silencers and their associated chromatin architectures, and suggests the possibility of targeted reactivation of epigenetically silenced genes.
Project description:The majority of the human genome does not encode proteins. Many of these noncoding regions contain important regulatory sequences that control gene expression. To date, most studies have focused on activators such as enhancers, but regions that repress gene expression-silencers-have not been systematically studied. We have developed a system that identifies silencer regions in a genome-wide fashion on the basis of silencer-mediated transcriptional repression of caspase?9. We found that silencers are widely distributed and may function in a tissue-specific fashion. These silencers harbor unique epigenetic signatures and are associated with specific transcription factors. Silencers also act at multiple genes, and at the level of chromosomal domains and long-range interactions. Deletion of silencer regions linked to the drug transporter genes ABCC2 and ABCG2 caused chemo-resistance. Overall, our study demonstrates that tissue-specific silencing is widespread throughout the human genome and probably contributes substantially to the regulation of gene expression and human biology.
Project description:C/EBP? plays an instructive role in the macrophage-neutrophil cell-fate decision and its expression is necessary for neutrophil development. How Cebpa itself is regulated in the myeloid lineage is not known. We decoded the cis-regulatory logic of Cebpa, and two other myeloid transcription factors, Egr1 and Egr2, using a combined experimental-computational approach. With a reporter design capable of detecting both distal enhancers and silencers, we analyzed 46 putative cis-regulatory modules (CRMs) in cells representing myeloid progenitors, and derived early macrophages or neutrophils. In addition to novel enhancers, this analysis revealed a surprisingly large number of silencers. We determined the regulatory roles of 15 potential transcriptional regulators by testing 32,768 alternative sequence-based transcriptional models against CRM activity data. This comprehensive analysis allowed us to infer the cis-regulatory logic for most of the CRMs. Silencer-mediated repression of Cebpa was found to be effected mainly by TFs expressed in non-myeloid lineages, highlighting a previously unappreciated contribution of long-distance silencing to hematopoietic lineage resolution. The repression of Cebpa by multiple factors expressed in alternative lineages suggests that hematopoietic genes are organized into densely interconnected repressive networks instead of hierarchies of mutually repressive pairs of pivotal TFs. More generally, our results demonstrate that de novo cis-regulatory dissection is feasible on a large scale with the aid of transcriptional modeling. Current address: Department of Biology, University of North Dakota, 10 Cornell Street, Stop 9019, Grand Forks, ND 58202-9019, USA.
Project description:The majority of the human genome does not encode proteins. Many of these noncoding regions contain important regulatory sequences that control gene expression. To date, most studies have focused on activators such as enhancers, but regions that repress gene expression⎯silencers⎯have not been systematically studied. We have developed a system that identifies silencer regions in a genome-wide fashion based on silencer-mediated transcriptional repression of caspase 9. We found that silencers are widely distributed and may function in a tissue-specific fashion. These silencers harbor unique epigenetic signatures and are associated with specific transcription factors. Silencers also act at multiple genes, and at the level of chromosomal domains and long-range interactions. Deletion of silencer regions linked to the drug transporter genes ABCC2 and ABCG2 caused chemo-resistance. Overall, our study demonstrates that tissue-specific silencing is widespread throughout the human genome and likely contributes significantly to the regulation of gene expression and human biology. Overall design: A high-throughput ReSE lenti-viral screen system was designed to systematically discover silencer regions in the human genome.
Project description:The modification of transcriptional regulation has become increasingly appreciated as a major contributor to morphological evolution. However, the role of negative-acting control elements (e.g. silencers) in generating morphological diversity has been generally overlooked relative to positive-acting "enhancer" elements. The highly variable body coloration patterns among Drosophilid insects represents a powerful model system in which the molecular alterations that underlie phenotypic diversity can be defined. In a survey of pigment phenotypes among geographically disparate Japanese populations of Drosophila auraria, we discovered a remarkable degree of variation in male-specific abdominal coloration. In testing the expression patterns of the major pigment-producing enzymes, we found that phenotypes uniquely correlated with differences in the expression of ebony, a gene required for yellow-colored cuticle. Assays of ebony's transcriptional control region indicated that a lightly pigmented strain harbored cis-regulatory mutations that caused correlated changes in its expression. Through a series of chimeric reporter constructs between light and dark strain alleles, we localized function-altering mutations to a conserved silencer that mediates a male-specific pattern of ebony repression. This suggests that the light allele was derived through the loss of this silencer's activity. Furthermore, examination of the ebony gene of D. serrata, a close relative of D. auraria which secondarily lost male-specific pigmentation revealed the parallel loss of this silencer element. These results demonstrate how loss-of-function mutations in a silencer element resulted in increased gene expression. We propose that the mutational inactivation of silencer elements may represent a favored path to evolve gene expression, impacting morphological traits.
Project description:The study of gene regulation is dominated by a focus on the control of gene activation or increase in the level of expression. Just as critical is the process of gene repression or silencing. Chromatin signatures have identified enhancers, however, genome-wide identification of silencers by computational or experimental approaches are lacking. Here, we first define uncharacterized cis-regulatory elements likely containing silencers and find that 41.5% of ~7500 tested elements show silencer activity using massively parallel reporter assay (MPRA). We trained a support vector machine classifier based on MPRA data to predict candidate silencers in over 100 human and mouse cell or tissue types. The predicted candidate silencers exhibit characteristics expected of silencers. Leveraging promoter-capture HiC data, we find that over 50% of silencers are interacting with gene promoters having very low to no expression. Our results suggest a general strategy for genome-wide identification and characterization of silencer elements.
Project description:To investigate possible smRNAs linked to TMM silencing by single-stranded and double-stranded silencers, we determined sequences of smRNAs by the Illumina high-throughput sequencing platform and compared silencing efficiency of different strategies. We found that single-stranded silencer alone could promote the production of smRNAs. smRNA profiles of 2-week-old wide type seedlings (WT) and different silencers were generated by Illumina Genome Analyzer IIx.
Project description:Acquisition of mobile elements by horizontal gene transfer can play a major role in bacterial adaptation and genome evolution by providing traits that contribute to bacterial fitness. However, gaining foreign DNA can also impose significant fitness costs to the host bacteria and can even produce detrimental effects. The efficiency of horizontal acquisition of DNA is thought to be improved by the activity of xenogeneic silencers. These molecules are a functionally related group of proteins that possess affinity for the acquired DNA. Binding of xenogeneic silencers suppresses the otherwise uncontrolled expression of genes from the newly acquired nucleic acid, facilitating their integration to the bacterial regulatory networks. Even when the genes encoding for xenogeneic silencers are part of the core genome, homologs encoded by horizontally acquired elements have also been identified and studied. In this article, we discuss the current knowledge about horizontally acquired xenogeneic silencer homologs, focusing on those encoded by genomic islands, highlighting their distribution and the major traits that allow these proteins to become part of the host regulatory networks.
Project description:Transposable elements are driving forces for establishing genetic innovations such as transcriptional regulatory networks in eukaryotic genomes. Here, we describe a silencer situated in the last 300 bp of the Mos1 transposase open reading frame (ORF) which functions in vertebrate and arthropod cells. Functional silencers are also found at similar locations within three other animal mariner elements, i.e. IS630-Tc1-mariner (ITm) DD34D elements, Himar1, Hsmar1 and Mcmar1. These silencers are able to impact eukaryotic promoters monitoring strong, moderate or low expression as well as those of mariner elements located upstream of the transposase ORF. We report that the silencing involves at least two transcription factors (TFs) that are conserved within animal species, NFAT-5 and Alx1. These cooperatively act with YY1 to trigger the silencing activity. Four other housekeeping transcription factors (TFs), neuron restrictive silencer factor (NRSF), GAGA factor (GAF) and GTGT factor (GTF), were also found to have binding sites within mariner silencers but their impact in modulating the silencer activity remains to be further specified. Interestingly, an NRSF binding site was found to overlap a 30 bp motif coding a highly conserved PHxxYSPDLAPxD peptide in mariner transposases. We also present experimental evidence that silencing is mainly achieved by co-opting the host Polycomb Repressive Complex 2 pathway. However, we observe that when PRC2 is impaired another host silencing pathway potentially takes over to maintain weak silencer activity. Mariner silencers harbour features of Polycomb Response Elements, which are probably a way for mariner elements to self-repress their transcription and mobility in somatic and germinal cells when the required TFs are expressed. At the evolutionary scale, mariner elements, through their exaptation, might have been a source of silencers playing a role in the chromatin configuration in eukaryotic genomes.
Project description:The Aicda gene encodes activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID). Aicda is strongly transcribed in activated B cells to diversify immunoglobulin genes, but expressed at low levels in various other cells in response to physiological or pathological stimuli. AID's mutagenic nature has been shown to be involved in tumor development. Here, we used a transgenic strategy with bacterial artificial chromosomes (BACs) to examine the in vivo functions of Aicda regulatory elements, which cluster in two regions: in the first intron (region 2), and approximately 8-kb upstream of the transcription start site (region 4). Deleting either of these regions completely abolished the expression of Aicda-BAC reporters, demonstrating these elements' critical roles. Furthermore, we found that selectively deleting two C/EBP-binding sites in region 4 inactivated the enhancer activity of the region despite the presence of intact NF-?B-, STAT6- and Smad-binding sites. On the other hand, selectively deleting E2F- and c-Myb-binding sites in region 2 increased the frequency of germinal-center B cells in which the Aicda promoter was active, indicating that E2F and c-Myb act as silencers in vivo. Interestingly, the silencer deletion did not cause ectopic activation of the Aicda promoter, indicating that Aicda activation requires enhancer-specific stimulation. In summary, precise regulation of the Aicda promoter appears to depend on a coordinated balance of activities between enhancer and silencer elements.